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Henrico deputies worried about safety in light of ambush-style attacks

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Posted at 9:55 PM, Sep 08, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-09 05:56:18-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- The Henrico County Sheriff’s Office addressed concerns about safety raised by deputies in light of recent ambush-style attacks on officers in states like Texas and Illinois.

Henrico Sheriff Mike Wade said several deputies sent him memos recently expressing their fears.

“I can see where they're concerned, and we do want to address it,” said Wade.

Wade said sheriff`s deputies will now have the option of putting on a bulletproof vest when they're doing medical transports between the jail and the hospital.

Sheriff Mike Wade

Sheriff Mike Wade

Deputies who solely work in the jail are not routinely issued bulletproof vests, but Wade said they can now put one on if they have to do a medical transport of an inmate.

Wade also said he would encourage deputies not to openly wear their uniforms in public, instead "to wear a coat over top of it, or to wear something to change into," he said.

Deputy Starshema Ellison is one of the deputies with safety concerns. She works part-time at the Henrico County Sheriff’s Office while getting her degree in criminal justice.

Ellison is one of around 70 - 80 deputies who work for the Sheriff’s Office who have not gone through the proper training to carry a gun yet, and she said that scares her.

officer safety

Deputy Starshema Ellison now has the option to wear a bullet proof vest when transporting inmates.

“I could be walking down the street and someone could ambush me with a weapon, and I don`t have a weapon to defend myself,” Ellison said.

Ellison said she and other deputies are especially concerned in light of recent ambush-style murders of officers in Texas and Illinois.

“Scary.... because every day you don't know if it's going to be you next or what,” Ellison said.

Ellison said she is already hiding her uniform while in public.

“I always wear a sweater coming in,” Ellison said.

The Richmond and Chesterfield Sheriff’s Offices said they have not implemented any policy changes, but if deputies have safety concerns, they are happy to address them.